1 in 3 of the UK nursing and midwifery workforce reported PTSD after COVID-19 first wave

on 16 December 2021

A survey conducted in the UK has found that 1 in 3 nurses and midwives suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey specifically for the UK nursing and midwifery workforce was conducted three times throughout 2020, which found a high proportion of NHS staff experiencing levels of psychological distress such as PTSD, anxiety, and stress.

Researchers from the University of Warwick and King’s College London, who conducted the surveys, said that a mixture of rapid changes to professional life, ways of working, pre-existing workforce challenges, high patient mortality rates and risk of illness to the workforce and their families, are likely to have long-term psychological impacts.

The surveys were open to all UK nurses and midwives and were conducted at three points of the year – two in April and May 2020 during the first wave, and the third was conducted three months after the first wave. Almost 8,000 nurses and midwives responded.

The number of participants who reported having possible PTSD declined during the three surveys, however 29% continued to report experiences of possible PTSD across all three.

Severe extreme stress was reported by 17.5% in the third survey.

63.2% of respondents who were redeployed during the pandemic reported that the training given to them to prepare for redeployment either did not happen or was inadequate. 40% said they lacked confidence in infection prevention and control training that they received, and 22.6% felt the correct personal protective equipment was not always available.

Assistant Professor in Emergency and Critical Care at the University of Warwick, Dr Keith Couper, said: “We know that even prior to the pandemic, the UK nursing and midwifery workforce was under significant strain due to high levels of attrition and ongoing recruitment challenges.

“Our study clearly highlights that staff experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic has had significantly exacerbated this strain. The findings in our research show that the psychological impact of the pandemic on the UK nursing and midwifery workforce has been extremely concerning. The ongoing challenges during subsequent pandemic waves have likely exacerbated this impact.”

The study was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

Source: News Medical